• Nez Perce National Historical Park. Front Page banner photograph is of Heart of the Monster, an ancient place where the Nez Perce creation story originates. The secondary page photograph is of Nez Perce beadwork.

    Nez Perce

    National Historical Park ID,MT,OR,WA

Pre visit Materials

Prior to visiting the park, lead the class in the following activities:

View the movie “Nez Perce Portrait of a People” (many schools/school districts have purchased this & it is available for sale at the park visitor center for $19.95).

Before watching the film, pose the question "what do you think “culture” means" before and after the movie. Other questions to consider:

  • How did the Nez Perce people get their name?
  • Does their name represent their people and how?
  • How did the Nez Perce feel about the earth? Give examples.
  • Where did the Nez Perce believe they received their power?
  • What caused the U.S. Government to move the Nez Perce people off of their land?
  • How did the Nez Perces’ lives change as a result of the Lewis and Clark Corps of Discovery expedition? Give examples.
  • Describe one part of the Nez Perce culture.
  • What might the movie mean when it says Nez Perce History in the past as well as the future?
  • What are some differences and similarities between how the Nez Perce people live today verses 100 years ago?
  • How do the Nez Perce people preserve their culture?
  • Why did some Nez Perce bands leave for Canada in 1877 and some stay on the reservation?
  • What impact did this have on the Nez Perce as a whole?
  • Have students develop one of their own questions to ask the class.

Did You Know?

The great Nez Perce rodeo rider Jackson Sundown on his horse, circa 1920. NPS photo NEPE-HI-1922

Horses came into Nez Perce country about the 1730s and the Nez Perce became well known for their large herds of fine horses. The Nez Perce practiced selective breeding to obtain the traits of intelligence, endurance, and speed.